To acquire wisdom, one must observe

Students gather for Take Back the Night

Students gathered at the Rabb steps for the annual Take Back the Night (TBTN) march on the evening of April 11. During this time, students and administration leading the event spoke to the crowd and walked together down to the Light of Reason to raise awareness for sexual assault and violence.

Becky Schwartz ’20 and Chila Haber ’19, two students at Brandeis, were the main students involved in running the event Thursday evening. Each took turns speaking to the crowd at the beginning. They vocalized sexual violence statistics specific to Brandeis while walking down the center of campus and ended on a serious note at the Light of Reason before going to admissions for a personal reflection.

Haber began with reiterating the privacy of the march, not limited to press attending the event but also to every attendee. She emphasized confidentiality and collective privacy being the top priorities, as sexual assault and violence are very personal and vulnerable for any individual to speak about. Haber and several other organizers of TBTN served not only as facilitators but people able to intervene if any person felt their safety was put into question.

All support people present at the event, including peer advocates and Sarah Berg, director of PARC, made sure all participants knew they could come walk with them at any time. Each person wore glow sticks to make themselves known. Other professors, staff and resources were present in addition to those visible or with TBTN shirts, available to support the students’ narratives.

Schwartz presented for the crowd some statistics via the 2015 Brandeis Climate Survey, though her more present message is how the numbers “most likely underestimate the prevalence of sexual violence at Brandeis.” This is a reality for a variety of reasons, she said, such as students not wishing to disclose their experience or “not labeling their experience as sexual violence.”

Haber ended this part of the march with several important points, one of which was that “Take Back the Night is a call to the entire Brandeis community, to commit collectively and intentionally to ending violence in all its forms.” From here, the chant was recited to the crowd to be said while marching throughout campus: “Shatter the silence, stop the violence; ignite the light, take back the night.”

During the walk to the Light of Reason, many students were offered a candle with an electronic switch to hold while walking, connected to the chant recited during the march. Some marched silently, some marched with friends and some carried on in regular dialogue.

The banner displaying the words “Take Back the Night” was held in front of the march to the Light of Reason, as well as to admissions for the reflective piece of the evening. When arriving at the Light of Reason as the sun set on the Brandeis campus, Schwartz and Haber reaffirmed the privacy of the space created through TBTN.

Schwartz briefly discussed ways in which Brandeis has reacted to sexual assault and violence in the past, and how students have responded. This is indicative of the ongoing dialogue happening between administration and students on campus. Schwartz ended by emphasizing how sexual violence is very much prevalent on Brandeis campus, and as such, “the university must reaffirm its commitment” to best responding to and advocating for students.

Time was given before heading to admissions for silent reflections at the Light of Reason. Chalk was handed out to write on the concrete, with any thoughts that came to mind. One individual wrote, as an ongoing part of sexual violence and healing dialogue, “I believe you,” with a heart beside it. The main speakers reiterated this while letting the crowd know that “We support you,” and saying that the messages from TBTN 2019 span beyond that evening.

This annual march was facilitated by on campus groups including but not limited to PARC (Prevention, Advocacy, and Resource Center), FMLA (Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance), STAR (Students Talking About Relationships) and JFAB (Jewish Feminist Association of Brandeis).

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